Getting Married: 32 Weeks – Silent Auction

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for an important announcement. If you don’t know me very well (which, if you are part of Matt’s crew, that is probably pretty true), I would like to share something that is very heavy on my heart with you. I have sought to be involved with the international community since I graduated from high school. I was intending to become a Bible translator and trekking the wilds of Nepal, teaching the Nomadic tribes about the love of Christ. Through a series of events (some felt unfortunate at the time, but the end result, I will not complain about 😀 *heart*) God took me through three unlikely countries (for me) before plopping me right back to southwest Ohio and saying that it would be here that I would serve Him. When I came home from China, I thought that God would send me back there at some point. I started offering English lessons to some of the workers in Chinese restaurants in the area. I worked on learning more about the culture and the language. But God decided to use my exposure here to teach me about something else.

Buy it on Amazon!

I got ahold of a book called “Not For Sale” by David Batstone. This book began with an account of a normal man, in a normal suburb, who found out a young Indian woman was found beaten and left wrapped in a carpet on the side of the road a few streets over from him. This woman was kept in debt bondage to a local Indian restaurant and then cast out, left for dead. It amazed this man that something like this was happening in his own backyard. This was my first real exposure to Human Trafficking.

And then it happened in MY own backyard. I discovered that it was happening to people who I had come to know and had spent time with. I was floored and began to investigate even more about this issue. Learning more about Human Trafficking, the various forms it comes in (debt bondage, sex trafficking, slave labor, child slave labor, child sex trafficking), God began to put these people on my heart. He brought a Bible verse to my attention:

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
– Isaiah 58:6 (ESV) –

Yep, we thumbs up.

I was so excited when my dear friend Amy Davis shared that God had been pulling her heart towards this same issue and to these hurting people over the years as well. She has been such a blessing and helped me get beyond just thinking about the problem and raising awareness to actually doing something concrete. We started out by going through the Love146 Task Force curriculum with a group of people at our church and others. We got a Fairfield police officer to come and speak at our church about the issue in our own hometown. Also, Matt has totally come on board to help whenever work permits and that is such a blessing!

This past weekend, we organized a Silent Auction to benefit a ministry reaching out to women in the sex industry in Dayton, OH. There are so many things I could point out about Human Trafficking in Ohio. Ohio is in the top 10 for human trafficking, with Toledo being the number one city in the nation for Child Sex Trafficking recruitment. Kids are regularly taken off the street and transported to other cities and states for the purpose of prostitution and pornography. Many active adult sex workers were forced into the business before they were 18 and most have experienced some form of abuse as a child. It pains me so much to know that there are people and children hurting like this, and that the demand exists at such a high level in our state.

This was our first time ever doing a Silent Auction and I honestly had no idea what to expect on support and amount raised. When we started talking to people about it, the promises for donations came pouring in. We would come into church and someone else would hand us a basket or bag of items they wanted to donate. The women’s ministry group at the church organized all the food and refreshments. And just when I was getting discouraged about not selling enough tickets, we had a few people come up to us that morning to buy some.

Three Citizens…yes, I realize there are four of them. They still sound good.

The week before, we had a bit of music debacle, but it all worked out with finding a new group that is fantastic! [Insert plug here] These are Three Citizens. We are so grateful that they came out to play for us. We had a great time with them.

We raised over $1,000 for Oasis House! It was so good! God definitely was in control of the whole thing. If you would like more information about Human Trafficking and the impact in Butler County, you can check out the Butler County Human Trafficking Awareness Facebook page. We are completely grassroots right now, but who knows what God will do in the future?! He has done crazier things in my own life so I won’t hold Him to any plan of mine.

Here’s a link to Oasis House, as well: http://oasisforwomen.org. I’m looking forward to spending much more time with them in the future!

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I’m getting married to my, you guessed it, best friend on June 1st, 2013! Matt and I are super-excited and since we have quite a bit of time to plan this thing, I decided it’d be fun to blog about it. Well, maybe not always fun, but at least informative and it might give me a welcome distraction. You can find all the posts by clicking the “Getting Married” tab on the right of this page, or by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by!

My Pinterest Wedding Board

Our Wedding Website on WeddingWire.com

Reflections on the Planning

I love and hate that God asks us to do things that are way outside of our comfort zone.  My pastor has mentioned often that he is a huge introvert and really doesn’t like getting up in front of people.  But God called him to be a pastor and he’s an amazing one!  For me, I can’t stand planning things.  Even planning a get together with friends drives me nuts!  I would much rather someone else make all the decisions and let me know where I need to be when and what I’m supposed to do.  And yet, inevitably, I will feel God say to me, “Sarah, I think you could plan such and such.  You know, I really want you to plan such and such.  It would be great for you if you would plan such and such.”  And I start down the fairly stressful path of planning an event. 

I don’t do this often.  It’s really God who has to convince me that it’s something I need to do.  But He did so back in November of last year.  If you can’t tell, something that weighs heavy on my heart is the atrocity of human trafficking.  I’ve been in exposure and awareness mode for the last few years – learning as much as I can, attending various events, getting connected with others who are concerned about it as well.  But, as I helped out with a Fall shopping day for Stop Traffick Fashion, I really began to feel like it was something our church needed as well. 

And I cringed.  I would have preferred to tell the ladies in my church about it and then they plan it.  I would even have consented to talking about it in front of the church (another thing I’m not a huge fan of doing), but with the words coming out of my mouth, the task was placed in my hands.  Our WMU leader was really excited about the idea, because she had been reading a couple of articles recently about human trafficking in the church women’s literature.  God was in this.  I’m not saying that I did it all – by no means – Brenda Heckman and Julie Johnson (Christmas tablecloths and all *wink) and Amy Jones and Jo Collas…they are some amazing ladies.  I’m so grateful to have them as role models to learn from, especially in regards to unity of kindred women and…the dreaded – hospitality. 

I am not practiced in hospitality at all.  I can’t remember what all is needed to make people feel comfortable.  For me, I go to an event to learn something and to network…and I assume everyone else is there for the same reason.  Shocking, but that’s not really the case.  Thankfully, the ladies mentioned above organized the food and decorating and there wasn’t much for me to do on that part besides being a grunt and moving tables and chairs. 

My primary task was organizing speakers and getting the word out to the community.  I may not have done the last part as well – and really the first part, I’m thinking went exactly as it should have gone, but nothing like I planned.  I was anticipating having a speaker share at each hour something in regards to human trafficking.  Emily would share about Stop Traffick Fashion and Hagar International.  I would talk about the Christian responsibility and upcoming events in the community.  And the one I was most excited about, a Hamilton Police Officer would come and share about human trafficking in our community, state and nation. 

It was awkward trying to figure out how we were going to stop everything and have everyone listen to a speaker for all of 5-10 mins and then go on their way with eating and shopping.  The only really solid group of “fresh” people was right between 10:30 and 11:15.  So, I asked for Officer Collins to share with everyone what she had been researching.  And it was great!

I wasn’t surprised that, as a local police officer, there wouldn’t be much experience with human trafficking.  I would be surprised if even the local sheriff’s department had any experience with human trafficking.  Our wonderful local sheriff isn’t that keen on the rights of illegals – no matter what condition they are in.  So, I wasn’t surprised when she shared that she got wide eyes and remarks of disbelief or discredit from fellow officers when commenting that human trafficking may be an issue in Butler County, OH.  She talked about not finding much information within the department to go off of, so she began to broaden her scope to the state of Ohio and then to the US.  She was surprised to find that Toledo is #4 in Top Cities of Human Trafficking.  Ohio is #7 in the US for human trafficking.  It’s an issue in every city (which would include Fairfield and Hamilton…”every” being an all-inclusive term).

I think that about 50 people came to the event.  Most of them bought something from STF.  But what I’m most excited is how God brought me to a job where I would meet this police officer, who I could then coordinate with and share a concern and a need in our community with.  And that she would then become interested in the issue and maybe work on spreading it to the rest of the department. 

I don’t know what this means for Butler County.  I don’t know if we’re on the edge of something starting or if it will take a few more years for anything to get going.  I don’t know what my part will be or if I will even have a part in it.  But I know that I am available to God – even if it involves more planning – that I will keep going until He stops me.